Rethinking guanxi and performance: Understanding the dark side of Sino–U.S. business relationships

Ibrahim ABOSAG*, Dorothy Ai-wan YEN, Bradley R. BARNES, Eman GADALLA

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies on guanxi (關係) have focused on how guanxi contributes positively to business relationships, without addressing the pivotal role that guanxi plays in managing the dark-side of business relationships. To address this knowledge gap, this study specifically investigates guanxi's influence on conflict, opportunism, and switching intention in Sino–U.S. business relationships and examines how guanxi mediate the positive effect of performance as well as the negative effect of uncertainty on such dark-side constructs. Drawing on data from over 270 Chinese firms, the findings reveal that guanxi is undermined by relationship uncertainty but enhanced by performance, guanxi also reduces the dark-side of Sino-US business relationships. Chinese buyers’ guanxi with U.S. suppliers significantly lessens their switching intention, opportunistic behavior, and the perceived levels of conflict in Sino-US relationships. The findings explain how guanxi is employed as a tool to reduce the burden associated with the dark-side of business relationships and give relevant implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101775
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Conflict
  • Guanxi
  • Opportunism
  • Performance
  • Switching intention
  • Uncertainty


Dive into the research topics of 'Rethinking guanxi and performance: Understanding the dark side of Sino–U.S. business relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this